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VPS Innovation Case Study - Urban Communities Kensington

Author: Kine Nordstokka
Published Date: 29 June 2011

With majority of buildings being built in the 1960s and 1970s and nowadays occupied by the least protected social groups, renovation of the Kensington Housing Estate in Melbourne presented a real challenge for the city government. While the estate has been successful in providing affordable homes, today the structure of demand is changing, and low income Victorians are experiencing a lack of affordable housing that has not been seen since the 1980s.

Urban development of the Kensington Housing Estate was a joint effort of government agencies, businesses and non-profits, as well as members of the local community. The result was a new innovative approach to public and social housing based on partnership and focused on customers.

Part of the innovation was to look at the buildings of the Kensington Estate not as a part of a problem, but rather as a part of the solution. With the help of a 10-year renovation project that is currently coming to an end, the area has been transformed inside and out. Renovating all the flats, creating external urban infrastructure and increasing safety of the area allowed to make the Kensington Housing Estate an integral part of the Melbourne community.

A number of innovative approaches made this possible:

•Combining people, property and place: From the outset, the redevelopment had a focus not just on the built environment but also on the long term social wellbeing of the tenants and their social and economic participation in the broader community.

•Deciding and governing locally: A governance structure enabled the government, the developer and the community to have a fair say in how the project was designed and developed.

•Providing urban renewal, not just property management: UCL is much more than just a property management company, it is an agent for urban renewal. It has been central in driving a community-building approach.

As the renovation is coming to an end, effectiveness of the project has been thoroughly scrutinized. The most noticeable benefits include savings in maintenance due to decrease in vandalism, growth of owner occupiers, creation of more stable tenancies, as well as building an overall stronger and integrated community.

For further details, please refer to the attached PDF.